Passing Through

Daily Prompt:  Passport


I’ve never applied for a passport, because until now, I didn’t really feel I needed one.  With no plans to travel outside my home country, it seemed just a hollow gesture to apply.  In this way, I am not unlike millions of people who go through life without a passport, since they feel the same way I do.  This is a perfect analogy of life in general, and life after death specifically.  Some people are not interested in having another life after this one, they don’t wonder about the future, they see no need in believing it’s true, because they don’t intend to go there.  Ignorance is not bliss.

Believing in the “hereafter” in many ways requires a spiritual passport.  A person has to first become convinced there is a life in the hereafter, and that they want to go there.  This step alone is a tiny act of faith, since none of the current world religious systems offer any clear evidence of another life after this one, except Christianity.  The Case for Christ movie begins next week, and in my opinion is a must-see for every person wanting more information about why Christianity’s claims are true.  Here’s my shortened version.

God offers every person a passport to the life He designed for us to have, with a place for us to live in constant community with Him.  The passport fees have already been paid by His Son, Jesus.  The passport is issued with a NEW NAME, because we are going to a NEW COUNTRY.
Revelation 2: 17
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.
Revelation 3:12
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

Old Testament patriarchs, kings, and prophets all new the truth of this place and this passport found in a person called Messiah. David and Isaiah wrote about God’s provision for His people.
Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Isaiah 43:1-2
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.

These Old & New Testament verses help us understand that God has made a provision to take every believer to a newly created place that was very much like Eden, yet entrance is attainable only through a specific faith statement.  Jesus gave us the specific criteria for our application on this spiritual passport.
John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

This understanding helped the apostle Paul to write words of instruction and clarity for us about our future home.  Except for the Hebrew people of the Old Testament (Jews of the New Testament) all other people groups were foreigners, strangers to the “covenants of promise,” without hope and without God in the world.  In Christ, all of us who were “far off” are brought near by the blood of Jesus.  Our faith in Jesus transforms us from aliens to citizens in the Kingdom of God. [Ephesians 2:11-22]
Ephesians 2:19
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household…

This kingdom of God, the next life after this one, is described in at least a few details, in the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation.  Revelation 21 describes a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem.  Revelation 22 describes two attributes of this new earth, that sustain life for all who dwell there:  the River of Life, and the Tree of Life.  In the last few verses of the last book in the Bible, Jesus gives a very interesting command to John, who is recording all this information for us.
Revelation 22:10-13
And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.  Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.  Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

This one phrase “do not seal up” means that the main message and theme of the Book of Revelation can be read, and understood, by those who seek truth regarding the consummation of human history and what happens when this life is over.  The spiritual passport that God makes available to every human is clearly seen in this book.  The hope of an afterlife that is real and desired is clearly seen in this book.  If you would like to know more, there is a bible study book available by clicking here.  Want hope for the afterlife?  Find it in Jesus!

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Fortune Cookies vs. The Bible

Daily Post:  Fortune

Fortune Cookie

One of my favorite cuisines is Chinese or Thai food.  I have several restaurants which I frequent and rotate between, all of which have one thing in common.  After the meal, when the check arrives, it is always accompanied by fortune cookies.  I find them humorous mostly, with the occasional thought provoking one pricking my mind.  There are some pretty funny and yet profound thoughts that go onto these little slips of paper, hidden inside the vanilla crunchy cookie.  For example:

“A good beginning is only half done.”
“A journey of 1,ooo miles begins with one step.” ~ Lao Tzu
“A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough.” ~Ben Franklin
“A bashful admirer will soon be revealed”
“All people smile in the same language.”
“Change before you have to.”

Fortune cookie fortunes are generally universal in nature; applying generally to all us in one or another stage of life.  However, the answers to life are not often found in a fortune cookie.  The serendipitous idea that on the exact day that I need a solution I should go to my local Chinese restaurant, order my favorite dish, knowing and believing that the fortune which lands in my hands as I pay the bill will be the exact answer to my desperate need… well, can you see how ludicrous this sounds?  The statistical chances of you’re finding the wealth, means, or desires of your heart on this tiny slip of revealed paper is astronomical.

The Bible unequivocally states that God is the Author of Life.   Therefore any meaning or purpose we find in life, any resources we have for living the life which God provides, is found in the Bible.  When individual human beings turn to their Divine Creator for answers to the issues or problems they face in this life, when they seek Him with all their hearts, they will find the answers that God providentially has stored for them.  I’m not just being trite or naive here, I believe this statement with all my heart.  Psalm 119:2 “How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.

I’ve heard many preachers tongue-in-cheek talk about how God can even tell you what car to buy.  Acts 2:1 [KJV] “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord together in one place.”  It’s funny… but it means they were all together and like-minded, not sitting in a Honda.  Most preachers would never use this verse this way in a literal sense of what automobile to purchase.  On the other hand, there are way too many preachers and teachers who have wandered down the path of the “name it and claim it” gospel, where all one has to do is include the name “Jesus” at the end of a prayer to get everything they want in this life.  This heretical teaching is counter-intuitive to what the Bible authentically teaches.

The Word of God, the Bible, is about the Creator’s divine provision and protection, guidance and sustenance, blessing and disciplining of those who call themselves children of God.  We do not worry about our fortune, our destiny, or the size of our estate.  No one will take these things with them into the life which follows death.  Our providential care comes from the author of Life.  I do not need a fortune cookie to tell me what happens next, or where to look for answers.  In the famous words of Andrae Crouch (1942-2015), in the song which says it all, “Jesus is the Answer.”

Jesus is the answer, for the world today,
Above Him there’s no other,
Jesus is the way.

If you have some questions
In the corners of your mind,
Traces of discouragement,
and peace you cannot find,
Reflections of your past,
Seem to face you everyday,
But there’s one thing I want you to know,
that Jesus is the way.

Jesus is the answer, for the world today,
Above Him there’s no other,
Jesus is the way.

I know that you’ve got mountains,
That you think you cannot climb,
I know your skies looks so dark,
That you think the sun will never ever shine,
But in case you don’t know it,
I tell you God’s word is true,
Everything that he has promised,
I know that he will do it for you.

Jesus is the answer, for the world today,
Above Him there’s no other,
Jesus is the way.

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Who’s Domain?



I grew up in West Texas where they say “Everything is bigger!”  My family always lived in the wilderness, not in an urban setting, affording me the treasures and pleasures of outdoor life in its West Texas finest.  As a kid, I did all the normal kid things.  We played hide-n-seek, shoot-em up westerns, and tag football in the street, watch cartoons on the black-n-white TV.  When we got bored with these activities, we’d just go on down to the junk yard and watch the old cars rust.  Ah, those were the days.

Traipsing around the raw prairie outside my back door, I hunted Jack Rabbits by the hundreds, never making a tiny dent in the population of varmints that ate my mother’s flowers.  Along with all the benefits of living so close to the wild, there were also a few downsides.  Rattlesnakes and scorpions lived there too.  In fact these dangerous critters seem to think they owned the place, that it was their domain.  I had to learn very early in life to watch where I was walking out there in a territory that hasn’t changed much in the last several thousand years.  Humanity and modernization notwithstanding, the prairies of West Texas at times seem untouched by human hands, if you look in the right places.

Which makes me curious about exactly why God made Horned Toads in the first place.  Did God think to Himself, “One day, Texas Christian University is going to need a mascot for its football team. Hmmm, I think I’ll make a Horned Toad?”  Ludicrous, I know, but it makes you think.  Most of the time we don’t really know why God created some of the creatures that inhabit this planet.  And with all those other galaxies, and planets in the night sky, we are right to wonder if God hasn’t created other creatures on other planets, and think they are just as weird as that West Texas toad that has horns, and prickly places all over its back.

Rattlesnakes, well really snakes in general, kinda creep me out.  I don’t like them, never have, never will.  I have my fair share of run-ins with these slithering sacks of venom, and if I never see one again it will be too soon.  Snakes probably get a bad rap today because of how they are seen in the Bible.  In my mind’s eye, every time my Sunday School teacher would talk about Satan in the garden, taking on the form of a snake, whispering in Eve’s ear, I would envision my last rattlesnake encounter and shiver.

Which takes me to my main point for this word: Territory.  The fact is that while this old earth was supposed to be man’s domain, Sin has caused us to take a back seat to the Tempter as “the god of this world.”  For now, every human is subject to the Sin of the garden, and its accompanying curses, which ultimately lead to death.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  Yet, because we have choice by design, God also, in His infinite wisdom, made a provision for Adam’s and our bad choice of not worshiping Him as God.  God allows us to be subject to Death, until we trust in His only Son Jesus for salvation.  God still owns this world.  Jesus is the rightful King.  We are the rightful stewards.  Yet, until the consummation of human history found in the Book of Revelation, Satan is still “the god of this world.”  See it for yourself.

2 Corinthians 4:1-4
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The slithering snake of ancient days is the god of this present world.  It’s not hard to see, it’s not hard to understand or comprehend.  One day, the Creator will take back this world that is rightfully His.  One day, the redeemed of God will be transformed into the perfected human beings God designed us to be.  One day God’s domain will again display God’s dominion and glory.  When?  Well that’s the question isn’t it?  We can’t know the time, the day, or the year, but there are things we can know.  If you want to discover more about God’s plan for taking back what’s is rightfully His domain, His Territory, click here

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Color of the Ages

Daily Pompt: Purple

Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) ruled England and Ireland from 1558 until her death. The childless queen was the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.  She also forbad anyone around her to wear purple, except the royal family.  Not that many would, or could, since the cost of purple fabric was so outrageously expensive, only rulers were wealthy enough to afford it.  What became modern-day Lebanon was, in the ancient world, the Phoenician city of Tyre, where the dye used to make purple was traded like gold or silver.  When Paul the apostle arrived in Philippi, in Acts 16:13-15, his first meeting was with women washing clothes at the riverside.  There Paul met a woman, “a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God.”  This woman was from Thyatira, and quite wealthy from her business selling purple cloth. Her wealth afforded her a large dwelling, so she invited Paul and his traveling party to come stay in her home. However, this is not the most ancient use of this purple dye.

When God was instructing Moses in the wilderness to build a tabernacle, the instructions included this command:  Moreover, from the blue and purple and scarlet material, they made finely woven garments for ministering in the holy place as well as the holy garments which were for Aaron, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. [Exodus 39:1]

Where did this purple material come from?  The simple answer is from Egyptian royalty.  Since only the extremely wealthy could afford the purple material to make royal robes, this cloth is associated with the ruling classes of Rome, Egypt and Persia.  As such, this color also became associated with spiritual holiness because in most of these ancient cultures the emperors or kings were thought of as gods or descendants of a god.

When God-Jehovah assigned Moses the task of leading the Hebrew people out of bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt, there was a time of challenge between the gods of Egypt and the God of Moses, the true and living God.  Finally in the last battle for authenticity, God gave the Hebrew people instructions for their last night in captivity.  They would take a lamb without blemish into their homes and treat it like a family member.  Then, on a specific night, they would kill this lamb, collect the blood and splash it over the header to their front door.  Then they would eat the lamb according to specific instructions from God.  If they followed these simple commands, God’s Holy Death Angel would passover their house and not harm them.  For every door header that didn’t have this blood, God’s Holy Death Angel would take the firstborn from that family in death.  It was only after Pharaoh’s firstborn was taken in this way that he allowed the Hebrew people to leave and follow Moses into the wilderness.  Still not the end of the story…

Where did all the stuff for building this Tabernacle come from?  Exodus 12:33-36

The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, “We will all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders. Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Did you see it?

Now fast forward back to Jerusalem in the New Testament circa 33 A.D., and the day following Passover.  Jesus has been arrested, hustled back and forth between Caiaphas and Pilate, where Pilate attempts to placate the Jewish leaders by having Jesus beaten.

Mark 15:16-18
The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 

Here the Creator of the color purple, is mocked by His highest creation, in derision calling Him a king, when in their hearts they believed no such thing.

There was a small mollusk found only in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean Sea where this purple dye was found.  It is said that more than 9,000 mollusks were needed to create just one gram of Tyrian purple dye.  Expensive beyond measure.  Some would say, priceless.

But what of the grace shown by the Son of Man, who without resistance or reticence would yield to such brutality as Jesus suffered, to pay our debt of Sin?  At what cost our salvation? The death of Jesus.  Rightly He wore the color purple, yet men today still mock Him, and unyieldingly use His name in vain.  Regal and royal, the color still remains a constant reminder to me, of a King who loves me personally.  Loves me so much, He gave His life for mine.

Purple is the color of the Ages.  It is Priceless.

For such a worm as I



Dracunculus medenisis, better known as the Guinea worm, is a parasitic nematode roundworm found in stagnant water.  When the water containing worm larvae is consumed, the larvae mate inside a human abdomen and grow.  Nasty little buggers these worms, some of them growing 2 to 3 feet long.  Scientists are now studying a painting from an Italian church with an image of just such a worm coming out of a 14th century French saint.  See the story here.

The symbiotic relationship doesn’t have to be parasitic (where one organism benefits at the expense of another), it could also be mutually beneficial.  Dogs and humans have lived in a mutualistic – symbiotic relationship for hundreds of years now.  The dogs supply protection and companionship while the humans provide food and shelter for their animal partner.  Symbiosis in its simplest and easiest to see form.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote a wonderful old hymn titled, At The Cross.  One line in the original text goes like this:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?

If you find this hymn in your hymnal today at church, I doubt very much if you’ll see it written this way.  For many new hymnal providers have replace the word “worm” with “sinners.”  For sinners such as I …

However, the image intended by Mr. Watts was not intended to be a pleasant picture, but to describe the depth of our sinfulness, when compared with the sinlessness of Jesus.  We are indeed nothing more than parasitic worms when compared to the glory of the One who gave His life for us.  We benefit at His expense.  We live, while He died.  We have hope and a future, because He was beaten and scourged.  We are healed by those very stripes.  We are worms. He alone is Lord of All.   And make no mistake here, no one, not one person is above the rank of worm.  Paul says, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him.” [Romans 10:12]

So the question from all this becomes, as worms, are we parasites to God or is their a mutualism aspect of our symbiotic relationship?  The answer lies in what we know about God, and the history of man’s origins.  God created a male and female human being “in His own image,” according to Genesis 2.  These human creatures were to walk and talk with God and have a relationship with Him.  The “in His image” part helps us understand our purpose and meaning for this life, which is to bring God glory by reflecting His image everywhere on earth.  The human entered a parasitic variant of this relationship when they chose to disobey God’s one command in the Garden, thereby robbing God of His glory.

Now, fast-forward to a day in the first century when God’s plan for a right relationship with humans was restored with Jesus sacrificing Himself on a Roman cross.  The parasite relationship is replaced with a mutualistic symbiosis. Now a human being can be forgiven of their “worm-ness” and being reborn, can return to the mutually beneficial relationship created for them in the Garden.  When a person steps over the line of faith into Jesus, God places His own Holy Spirit within them.  I can truly say, Christ in me, and I in Him.  I now through God’s Holy Spirit am empowered to bring Him glory.  God through His Holy Spirit provides my every need for living – to bring Him glory.  Symbiosis at its best!

Isaac Watts had it right.  I am a worm as a sinner.  But as a redeemed worm, I became a saint of God, bringing Him ultimate glory!  Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits!  I’m saved… At The Cross.



Locks & Keys

via Meaningless



The purpose of any lock on a given door is dually defined, either to keep someone out, or to keep someone in.  It may be to protect the thing inside, or to protect the thing outside from the thing inside. The lock in itself doesn’t necessarily define the meaning of its existence, it is after all, just the lock.  Therefore its meaning, or purpose, is defined by the thing it protects, or serves; that which is wholly outside of the lock.  In this way, the lock is not self-determining, rather the owner of the lock determines its meaning.  The lock can spend its whole day by agonizing over whether it is a good lock or a bad lock, whether it is truly living out its intended purpose in life, or whether it should have been used to lock a larger more significant door, or even deserving of the door it is locking.  But all of these thoughts and emotions on the part of the lock would be meaningless, since the lock has no part in any of it.

In fact, the most significant part of any lock is its counterpart: the Key.  The key is like the lock in that its meaning or definition is dual in nature: it either opens the lock, or locks it.  The key itself is exactly like the lock in that it too can waste time asking and trying to answer similar questions the lock asked, but these are just as futile for the key.  Both the lock and the key find ultimate meaning in their use by the owner of each item.  Power is in the one who locks and unlocks.  The owner using this power, inherent in holding the key, brings meaning to either as He deems fit.

It seems to me that when we search for the meaning of our life without examining whether we are locked up or free, the natural result or conclusions are meaningless.  I suggest we are all locked up in our pursuit of meaning and purpose, while ignoring the very things that bind us from discovery.  We are locked up because we think foolishly we hold the keys to everything that would make us happy.  We are locked up because we think putting on “religious” attitudes, or wearing “pious” clothes, or donning pretentious “masks,” will set us free.  We are all locked up because whatever thing you are holding onto that you think is a key of happiness, is actually the lock that keeps you enslaved.

This existence of human experience has but one purpose or meaning.  We were created to bring glory to God the creator.  When we search for keys to unlock doors leading anywhere but to this truth, we remain enslaved to a meaningless life.  When we pursue our purpose with wholly committed hearts to bring God glory with every fiber of our existence, He alone uses the key called “Grace” to unlock a beautiful existence designed specifically for us as His children.  Every day we have this choice, to live in God’s grace and to extend God’s glory to the ends of the earth.

When its over, life as we know it, will your life have had meaning?  Who determines this answer? You? No. God alone holds the keys.  He said so.  Jesus said to His disciples:

John 14:6
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.  

This same apostle recorded the words of Jesus in the beginning chapter of The Book of Revelation, and guess what He talked about… yep, KEYS!

Revelation 1:17-19
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said,

“Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look–I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades. Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this.”

We are God’s highest creation.  We mean more to him than simple objects like locks and keys.  Yet to find our meaning in life requires a higher level of thinking and understanding than most people are willing to give.  It also requires knowing who “actually” controls the locks and keys… of life itself.

If you would like a brief glimpse inside this passage click here: Revelation 1_17-19

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Rusty Routines

via Ordinary

Ode to Simon Peter

PeterIn my mind’s eye, I’m just an ordinary guy.
The sun rises and sets, everyday I clean my nets.
Some days the fish bite early, on others I just go home surly.
Then along comes a man, who seems more than just a man.
He lifts me from from the pallor, He fills my life with color.
No longer satisfied, to move in and out with the tide,
I now reside, inside … the circle of this extraordinary man.


For years and years I got up early, went immediately to the shower, got dressed like a warrior to do battle in a suit.  Routines were important.  Routines kept me focused on the next task, so that when the tasks of the day were complete, I could sleep again.  Rest again. It wasn’t always such a dreary life as to wish I had another.  Moving from one career to another over time seemed natural and normal, ordinary.  The routines all felt ordinary.  The days, months, and years, now looking back, all seemed just so ordinary.  It was what it was.

For a good part of that life I often found my nose pressed in one particular book called the Bible.  Actually the Bible is a collection of 66 different books by almost as many authors.  Taken as a whole it describes a great and extraordinary kind of love, demonstrated to all men and women, ordinary and great, regardless of race, color, or nationality.  Having now spent the best part of my life studying, preaching and teaching from this collection of Books on God’s love, I find in myself an unusual sense of peace.

I don’t get up at the same time every day.  I eat when I’m hungry, not on a predetermined schedule.  Some days I don’t shave.  Some weeks I don’t shave for several days in a row.  This feels normal, ordinary even.  I read, a lot.  Having read for years in preparation for the next speaking opportunity, now my reading has expanded to other topics of interest.  I’m investigating new technology gadgets, new recipes to try,  and new training methods for my golf swing.  For me, this is the new normal.  Some days I’m content in this place, while other times I look back almost fondly, through a misty fog, on the rusty routines of a younger life as me.

The Ode to Simon Peter (above) came to me just this morning.  The picture I’ve loaded is not by accident.  Peter lived such an ordinary life before Jesus showed up one day while Peter and Andrew were cleaning their nets.  On that day, their lives changed forever.  Peter would never tell us today that his life after that day was ever ordinary.  In fact, I suggest that Peter would tell us now, as he looks back on his life with the Master, that this one image is a perfect reflection of how his relationship with Jesus looked… every single day.

Jesus is in the saving business.  Peter was just an ordinary man, an ordinary fisherman, who needed Jesus to provide, protect, lead, and yes, save him, every day.  This my friends is the very definition of grace.  We are all so ordinary.  God is so extraordinary.  His hand reaches out to us, and by His hand we are saved.  I so readily identify with Peter in this way.  I realize with ultimate clarity that my whole life past, has been about God’s saving grace, for an undeserving ordinary man, me.  I have no illusions about my present, or my future.  I’ll continue to be very ordinary.  In this way, I will also continue to need Jesus offering His hand to save me.  Yet, I will always be, what God called me to be, like He called Peter to be, a fisher of men.

Mark 1:17
“Follow Me”, Jesus told them, “and I will make you become fishers of men.”


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It’s a Sign

via Symptom

Dorothy Parker, best known for her smart-mouthed wisecracking poety and one-liners, was a poet, writer, critic and satirist.  Here’s a couple of examples:

~  “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.

~  “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly.  It should be thrown with great force.

Here’s a sample of her wit in poetry:


When you read Parker’s biographical sketch, a realization occurs that she was writing out of her own personal angst, her writing but a symptom of what she experienced early on in a traumatic childhood.  The humor disguised a deeper, stronger coping mechanism to keep going on.  Often what comes out of our mouths and minds is a truer symptomatology of what’s in our hearts, than the actions of pretense, of lives without care.  Don’t take my word for it.  The Bible is my authority.

On one occasion Jesus told the surrounding crowds, “Listen and understand: It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” [Matthew 15:10]

On another occasion Jesus told the leaders of Israel, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” [Matthew 23:25]

Am I suggesting we shouldn’t live humorous carefree lives?  Not at all.  In fact it seems to me any Bible student would be intimately familiar with the phrase “abundant life,” and exactly from where this kind of life should originate.  What I’m suggesting is that we can’t see humor in general, or sarcasm in particular, as a face-value symptom of what’s going on inside a person.  There are other truer symptoms or signs of what it means to live authentically in our world as the Designer intended life.

I wrote about this in February this year under the Daily Post: Juicy.  But it bears repeating here, for I believe these are the symptoms or signs of authentic living.

Galatians 5:22-25
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

When God’s Spirit resides within us, He produces in us the evidence (symptomatology) of His indwelling power for living well.  None of these “fruits” are physical in themselves.  However, all these can be see as evidence by those observing our eyes, our faces, our actions, and our speech.  For each of these outward observation points will be influenced and governed by that which is inside us.  God’s Spirit.

C, C, & A

via Acceptance


C, C, & A …  churches, country clubs, and acceptance.  Acceptance is important to almost all of us.  We all want to be included.  We all gain a great deal of our self esteem or self-perception from those who accept us.   Or, we take a huge hit personally when we are rejected.  It doesn’t matter whether it is churches, country clubs, a sports team, a club, a university, fraternity, sorority, or picking teams for Red Rover, we all seek acceptance.   Every game, team, or group has their own dogma, ideology, doctrine, code or creed to which we must adhere in order to be accepted.  We must accept and incorporate these beliefs into our fiber of life, or we are deemed unacceptable.  The paradox of acceptance, is the challenge to accept in order to be accepted.

One would think that joining a country club would be pretty simple.  Pay the initiation fee, commit to pay the monthly dues, and adhere to the club’s rules and you’re in.  However, while this may be true in some smaller clubs, the reality is that there is a selection committee who deems which of all the applicants are worthy of club membership.  These folks determine if the applicant is acceptable or not.

One would think that joining a church would be pretty simple.  While some churches make it extremely easy, others are virtually impossible to join even when compared to country clubs.  In this case most churches don’t require an up front initiation fee, but expect and often demand a financial commitment to support the church.  Indoctrination to the church’s beliefs is standard in many churches large or small today, known as “new member orientation.”  Often before a person can have a place of leadership in the church they must attend the classes and pass inspection so to speak.  I get it.  The church wants to make sure all their leadership is on the same page doctrinally, so they don’t confuse the churches message to guests or other members.

I guess my question is:  Is this how God designed it?  Is this how it was supposed to be?  Was there supposed to be some kind of acceptance process to be included as part of the church?  You only have to go to the book of Acts in the Bible to know the answer.

In Acts 15:1-35 the Council at Jerusalem were to answer a very basic question:  “What must a person do to be saved.”  Or put another way, “Who receives acceptance into the Faith?”  The question was raised because there were those not Jewish coming to accept Christ as Lord by the thousands as Paul and Barnabas went bout preaching the gospel.  So there was dissent in the ranks of the early church about who was acceptable.  The Jewish leaders wanted to impose “circumcision” on the Gentile men coming to faith, as a condition of acceptance.  In the end, the Council determined acceptance would be based on: abstaining from food sacrificed to idols, abstaining from sexual immorality, abstain from eating anything that was strangled, abstain from blood. [See Acts 15:19-21]  This was the first acceptance criteria for outsiders (Gentiles) to be included in the largely Jewish entity known as the Church.  For my more detailed bible study on this passage click: The Council at Jerusalem Acts 15_1-35.

Acceptance in the long run is not determined by the church.  Acceptance is determined by God the Father.  His terms for acceptance of any individual into His family (what we euphemistically call The Church), is more than clear in His Word.  Here are the terms of inclusion:

John 14:6
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8
God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

These passages are the entrance exam to be included into God’s family.  All who accept these conditions, commit to them, believe them dogmatically, and yield their life to these truths… receives acceptance from God.

No other earthly entity can add to these or take away from these and still be called a church.  If they do… they are a country club, social club, fraternity, sorority, or some such other thing… but not a church.  Is that harsh?  Maybe so.  But God will be straightening this out someday for everyone.  I hope it is pretty soon.





Sticks and Stones

via Label

label maker

There was a time when I thought label makers were so cool.  Seeing that thin piece of film coming out the end, printed so finely with tags for all my files, was comforting in that now I could actually read the titles at the tops of my most important information.  You know, files like: Golf Scores, Favorite Restaurants, Dog Groomer, etc.  My handwriting is something my mother often referred to as “chicken scratching,” saying she could neither read it or make sense of it.  So the label maker saved my bacon when she came to visit and saw my office filing system.

Unfortunately, some people tend to designate, describe, or hashtag their own labels for other people, becoming in the act, a living – breathing label maker.  Sure I enjoyed having my files labeled, that made finding my stuff easier.  I don’t so much enjoy being branded by those who barely know me, or those who think they know me but don’t, or those that don’t know me and know they don’t know me… as something that I’m not.  You want to know a good label for me?  Here it is:  Sinner saved by GRACE through Jesus.  This is the only label I will wear without hesitation.

Why?  Because I know exactly how true it is.  Because of my sinful condition, (thank God it is only temporal and not eternal), I know some other labels that fit me.  These labels are not the total me, so if you see only this part, then you don’t know the rest of me.  For example, one label that fits is “Failure.”  I’ve failed in a marriage, as a father, as a pastor, as a friend, at business, at being a son, brother, and teacher.  Not all the time.  Not my whole life.  Because in my past and present it would also be right to label me as “Successful.” I’ve been successful in marriage, as a father, a pastor, friend, son, brother, teacher.  I’ve been successful in business, having recently written, and offering for purchase, my first Bible study book on Revelation.  “You see Timmy”, not every label has a “this is all he is” kind of accuracy.

A person can hashtag on their mobile devices all day long, in an instant opinion world where the “optics” are the only thing that matters, and still not be accurate or insightful in these opinions or observations.  Reading between the lines of any one person’s life-story, is impossible to do without divine knowledge.  I’m pretty sure no person surrounding me today, or in my past could be mistaken as divine.  They are pretty much like me in the “sinner” category.  In my mind at least, that makes us all equal.

Some people today use their personal version of verbal label making to assassinate another person’s character.  Lashing out verbally, or on social media, they imitate a group of people from the Bible that Jesus went toe-to-toe with a bunch of times.  The Scribes and Pharisees were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of Israel, and lead the people into divine truth as revealed to them from God’s written word.  The problem was, by the time Jesus began His ministry in the first century, many of these men no longer relied on God’s written word to guide them.  Instead, they turned to the opinions and interpretations of men down the ages who preceded them, reading and citing tradition and opinion rather than the actual words of God.  So when they heard of Jesus speaking, interpreting, and proclaiming the ACTUAL word of God, they became instant human label-makers.

In so doing, they verbally labeled Jesus in front of the masses as a Law-breaker, for eating without ceremonially washing His hands first.  Jesus responded one time this way… Mark 7:6-15

“Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:

These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.  Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.

You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition!  For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.  But you say, If a man tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is Corban” (that is, a gift committed to the temple), you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.  You revoke God’s word by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”  

Summoning the crowd again, He told them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 

At other times, these men called Jesus: heretic, blasphemer, a devil, a liar, they said His miracles were from Satan.

Now, here’s the thing.

Jesus told His disciples that in this world, if they (or we today) decide to follow Him whole-heartedly, we will not only face persecution, name calling, labels, or slander… we could even face death.  This is why it is getting so much harder to follow Jesus in a perverted and twisted society with instant access to social media.  The sticks and stone do hurt don’t they?  The constant barrage of hashtag hate that permeates our society is sickening to our Heavenly Father, I’m sure of it.  But there will always be a cost to following Christ.  What’s a person to do?  I know I gave you this verse just yesterday in my blog, but allow me to emphasize it by reminding you of it here.

John 16:33
I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

Don’t worry about the labels people place on you.  Only, constantly remember the correct label you wear:

Sinner saved by GRACE through Jesus.


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via Conquer

Nike is a giant-slaying footwear manufacturer, who’s slogan is famous and known around the world.


Do you know what the word “Nike” really means?  The word is Greek, and the verb form is νικάω = nikaó (nik-ah’-o).  According to Strongs Concordance the short definition is “I Conquer.”  The use of this verb implies a battle.

I was going to write about famous conquerors, quote them, then make some typical practical application of how these actions apply in our life today.  What happened along the way of my creative process was a complete 180 in my thinking.  I was suddenly taken back to my days as a boy in Sunday School, in a little country church near our home.  I remember sitting there while the teacher talked about the shepherd boy, David.  This young boy fought and killed a giant, conquering the Philistine army in that one-on-one battle. I remember thinking, “how could he do that?”  The question for me that day, and almost every time I’ve heard the story, or taught the story since has been, “wasn’t David afraid?”  I still believe the answer is “yes.”

I’m going to take a lot of grief for saying that here, just as I have at other times when I put humanity back in it’s place contextually.  Think of it like this, as Nelson Mandela is famous for saying it, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”  Once we can grasp the idea that fear doesn’t have to mean defenseless or powerless, we can begin to understand how a young shepherd can conquer a giant.  The point of this story being in the Bible records of Hebrew history in the Old Testament is not as much about whether David was courageous or cowardly, as it is about David’s complete dependance on God’s providential care in every circumstance of life.  It’s more about David’s conquering faith, while squaring off with a man so skilled in the acts of war he was considered a one-man army.  It’s about knowing through previous personal experiences that regardless of what life brought into David’s path, he could and he would act courageously while fearfully trusting in Yahweh to provide what David needed in the heat of the battle.  Courageous David would run through his own fear into the valley of death where the giant stood bellowing insults at Israel.  Listen to David’s own words:

1 Samuel 17:26
Just who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

When Jesus was about to die, He met with His disciples on Passover and gave them instructions about how to go forward without Him.  John, the one whom Jesus loved, wrote the most complete narrative of all the dialogue between Jesus and the twelve that night at the supper.  John chapter 16 gives a warning, a promise, a prophecy, and a command.  Jesus warns them about persecution coming to them for following Him as their Master.  Jesus promises them they will have help to face whatever comes, because He will send the Holy Spirit to empower them for their mission.  Jesus prophecies of the actions of His impending death and resurrection.  And in the end, Jesus commands them [John 16:33]…

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

Here’s the Jim Wilkins version…

Jesus to me (a disciple): “Peace of mind is knowing I’m still in charge, even when you don’t see me.  Peace of mind is believing that I’m still working behind the scenes to make My Father’s will completely perfect in your lives.  You’re going to suffer, and this causes you to be afraid.  Don’t be. I’ll send help in the exact moment you need it most.  So take courage through your fear, and throttle the thing that will attempt to take your life.  I am about to give you a model for how to do exactly that!”

Paul’s letter to the Romans was designed to bring this same kind of confident life action and motivation.  Chapter 8 is a description of all the things in life that may come at us, that tries to separate us from God’s loving grace.  Paul wraps us His long explanation of deliverance from bondage to the world, and our victory in Jesus, with these words:

Romans 8:37-39
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Don’t miss the word in verse 37: conquer.  νικάω = nikaó (nik-ah’-o) =  Nike!

It’s more than just a shoe company.


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Stirring the Pot

via Controversy

Abortion.  The ALCU.  Alternative Energy.  Animal Testing. Sexual Orientation at birth. Safety of cell phones.  Should churches be taxed. Global climate change.  Concealed handguns.  Death Penalty.  Drinking Age.  Euthanasia.  Gay Marriage.  Gun Control.  Illegal Immigration.  Insider Trading in Congress.  Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.  Obamacare. “Under God” in the Pledge. Vaccines for Kids.  Voting Machines.

These are but a few of the 50+ debate topics listed at The site also lists a respective core question to get the controversial blood letting started.  Add to these:  Artificial Intelligence, Biofuels, Censorship, Drug legalization, Extremism, Fracking, Genetic Engineering, Hacking, Offshore Drilling, Privacy, Stem Cells, and Women’s Rights.  All these come from the 50+ list of controversial issues from the Thompson Library in Flint Michigan.  It’s exactly these kinds of controversies, that result in our inability to live together in peace.

Put 25 people in a room, and I mean ANY 25 people, hand out talking points on any one of the issues listed above, read the first core question, then just step back and watch.  Depending on the general mix of people in the room, you can expect anything from an animated discussion with tinges of anger, to full out battle lines to be solved only with violence and death.  These are not simple issues, they are fodder fueling the divisions that destroy friendships, families, and nations.  Why then do we insist that our world is becoming a better place?

Add one more ingredient to any one of these topics, and “stirring the pot” doesn’t even come close to describing the vitriol of people’s reactions.  Just one ingredient:  the Bible.  I’m not talking even about organized religion, systematic theology, or denominational bents.  Just say, “find something in the Bible that speaks to one of these topics,” and the discussion goes thermo-nuclear in a nanosecond.  Having a biblical perspective in a hostile non-spiritual world is much like the dialogue between Charlie Brown and Lucy below:

controversy 2

This old world, and our nation specifically, may indeed last another 1,000 years, maybe longer.  However, issues like these won’t go away.  We can’t wish them away.  We can’t realistically expect to solve each of them in any longterm fashion without dealing with the root cause of many if not all of them.  Sin is the issue which causes men to think of themselves more highly than they should.  This egocentric error results in actions and attitudes which speak clearly of their lost condition.  Having no sense of a need for forgiveness, or the need of a Savior, humans will go farther and farther down the road to depravity and lostness.

So here I am, stirring the pot.  I’m a long time pot-stirrer.  Sometimes I feel much like Charlie Brown in this comic.  I’ve written my thoughts about how this world will finally see peace, comfort, and safety.  It’s about 540 pages long, and takes awhile to read.  That’s because it is a Bible Study, not a best-selling novel.  It’s about hope, love, grace, forgiveness, redemption and salvation.  It seems sometimes like no one cares about these things anymore.  It’s easier just to be Lucy, “Well, who cares what you think?!”


The Cross is not a Talisman

via Luck

In 1964 General Mills food company introduced a cereal with toasted oat pieces and multi-colored marshmallow shapes, which had a leprechaun mascot named “Lucky.”  The commercials captured my ten-year old mind, so what did I ask for every time we went to the local Piggly Wiggly?  Lucky Charms!  As luck would have it, for my mom not me, I didn’t like it nearly as much as the commercials made me think I would.  The whole soggy marshmallow thing didn’t sit well with me.  I think I ate maybe 1/3 of the box before I went back to Cherrios.


Playing golf last week in my senior men’s golf association, I watched a 17 handicap make an eagle from some 40 yards of the green.  The man hit a good shot, and I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but golf has its own trite sayings about things like this. When a shot from 40 yards runs half that distance on the ground, twisting, turning, bouncing and rolling at least a third of the way, “I’d rather be lucky than good sometimes,” is one phrase appropriately said in this case.  Or, as my uncle Wylie used to say, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut on occasion,” also applies.  Fortune smiles on me.  Lady luck is nowhere to be found.  Karma gets you every time.  Pick your favorite “Luck” phrase.

Which brings me to the Cross.  I know people who place crosses in every room of their house, thinking it will bring them good luck.  They treat the cross like a talisman.  A talisman is an object which someone believes contains magical properties providing good luck for the one who posses it, or offers protection from evil or harm.  Whether worn around your neck or as an ankle bracelet, the cross is not a talisman.  Whether made of metal or wood, horseshoe nails wrapped in colored wire, crystal or gold, the cross is not a talisman.

Jesus never said, “after I’m gone, if you just wear a cross around your neck, or have one tattooed on your forearm, you will be good to go.”  Don’t get me wrong, I think more Christians should capture the essence of what the cross means for them personally, but I can tell you it isn’t “good luck.”  The cross represents self-sacrifice.  Self-sacrifice often involves pain, almost 100% of the time in some form.  By definition it means putting your needs last, and someone or many someone’s needs way ahead of your own.  But more specifically, in this case, the cross means DEATH.  We’ve seen the instrument of Jesus’ death desecrated or elevated in countless ways that have nothing to do with His saving grace, offered in His sacrifice for our sin.

Is it just blind or dumb luck that after this life is over we are afforded heaven? No!  Why do so many people then approach God as though He were a heavenly slot machine?  We pray for stuff we don’t need, or stuff we know God probably doesn’t want us to have, mix it all together and at the end invoke Jesus’ name, then cross ourselves… and expect God to deliver. Was this how Jesus taught us to pray?  I think that prayer goes something like this:

Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13   [HCSB]

This prayer has nothing to do with luck.  You can’t just say it once a day, every week in worship, or once in awhile we’re your facing doubt and darkness, using it like some incantation to bring instant prosperity or protection to your life.  The words must MEAN something.  The words must ring true to you.  So true that you base your whole life on the reality of God’s sovereignty, and trust Him implicitly to provide your every need.  Needs that He deems are needs, and not our fanciful desire for worldly possessions or successes.

I’ll say it one more time.

The Cross is not a talisman.


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Mustard Seeds and Mites

via Massive


West Texas was a great place to look up the stars when I was growing up.  I used to go outside, look up, and just be mesmerized by those twinkling lights in the night sky.  My tiny little brain struggled to understand how big our universe is.  Because everything on earth seemed so very small compared to these massive night portraits of God’s creation.  In the time you took to read these first few lines, a photon of light has travelled from the Sun some 10 million kilometers.  Thats the same as going around the earth 250 times.  The universe we see is massive.

These facts are hard for me to comprehend, and even if my mind wants to believe they are true, for me to believe them requires faith.  Massive amounts of faith.  What does “massive amounts of faith” actually look like though?  On one occasion the apostles came to Jesus and said, “Increase our faith.” [Luke 17:5]  I found that to be a strange request. Did these men really believe Jesus would make it that easy, by just “giving” them massive faith?  But stranger still was the answer Jesus gave them.

Luke 17:6
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,” the Lord said, “you can say to this mulberry tree, Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” 

There have been vast numbers of sermons and bible lessons built around these two verses, and almost always they appear to be stand alone lessons from Jesus.  But if these two verses are all that’s examined, we will surely miss the point of Jesus’ teaching.  Because verses 7-10 are the CONTEXT by which this mustard seed/massive faith is understood.

Luke 17:7-10
Which one of you having a slave tending sheep or plowing will say to him when he comes in from the field, Come at once and sit down to eat?  Instead, will he not tell him, “Prepare something for me to eat, get ready, and serve me while I eat and drink; later you can eat and drink?”  Does he thank that slave because he did what was commanded?  In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, “We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.”

Massive faith is balanced in this life with massive obedience.  When we daily bring glory to God with our lives, we are obediently living out our singular purpose, which in turn brings the kind of faith that can move mountains, according to Jesus.  Why then do we see so little “mountain-moving” among people of faith today?  Good question, huh?  Another example may give us the clue to massive faith.

One day Jesus had been teaching his disciples to not be like the Scribes and Pharisees who put their “so-called-faith” on display, to be praised by men.  These false teachers were show-men.  They wanted to be seen as the ultimate model of righteousness.  So Jesus, while sitting in the temple, across the hall where the money was being collected, He watched how people gave their offerings at church.  The collection place was a large metal urn where people would place their money in such a way as to make a really big clanging noise against the metal.

About this time a widow who was massively poor came along and dropped in two tiny, almost obscure, copper coins (mites) which didn’t even rattle as they hit the urn.  Jesus sees the opportunity for another lesson on massive faith, turns to his apostles and says…

Mark 12:43-44
“I assure you: This poor widow has put in more than all those giving to the temple treasury.  For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she possessed–all she had to live on.”

Massive faith is giving all.  Giving everything you know about yourself to everything you know about God, and believing He will take care of it all.  Massive faith is believing when I align my will with God’s will, then God’s will … will be done.  More importantly, when I align my will with God’s will, His Holy Spirit will guide me to what needs to be done, and empower me to do what needs to be done, to accomplish God’s will.  Penniless and powerless, this widow brought more glory to God than anyone else in the temple that day.  There is no doubt in my mind that God blessed this woman in ways we can’t even imagine.

Mustard seeds and mites are the formula for mountain-moving massive amounts of faith!

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Nature’s Way

via Instinct

When you hear, “Once upon a time…,” what immediately comes to mind?  Fairy Tells? Mythology? A television show?  Children’s stories?  What about this phrase, “In the beginning…”?  So often I’ve heard people say the origins of our earth and universe were creations of chance, without logic or reason, or a Creator… it was just a Big Bang.  Yet there is this document that having stood the test of time continues to be one of the best selling books of all time.  In it is found the narrative of creation, including the universe, the atmosphere surrounding the earth, the water and the mountains, all plant life, the fish and the birds, and every living animal or creature, including the human species. While there are those who continue to proclaim this document’s narrative is no truer than the average fairy tale, children’s story, or epic mythological account of time, what exactly determines the veracity of this story over the others?  There is no other tale, story, or myth that goes on to explain the meaning of life in such vivid detail, with such historical accuracy, or with such future promise as does the Bible. In fact, in the Bible is found the explanation for all the other narratives.

Romans 1:18-23
For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

So here’s the thing.  You can’t ask a tree if the tree believes in the Creator, because the only “voice” the tree has is it’s instinctive knowledge of the seasonal changes the Creator instituted, and the tree’s own presence to demonstrate this truth.  So every season the tree’s leaves change color, the tree goes to sleep, then bears new leaves or fruit in it’s time of new life.  It’s wired this way.  It’s instinctive.  But if the trees, or the rivers, or the mountains and the hills did have a voice…

Isaiah 55:12
You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

All of nature makes its way to glorify the Creator within itself.  Animals, birds, fish, plants, trees, the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars of the universe, all point to the Creator and say, “what a great God we serve!”  They all act on instinct – that innate, fixed pattern of behavior with which they were created to act.  But NOT the human species.  We are different.  While the Roman’s passage above tells us that we are capable of recognizing God’s handiwork, in the sense that we “instinctively” know God exists, we humans get to choose to worship and bring Him glory.  Or not.  Choice, that’s the difference.  We are not hard-wired in our DNA to specific actions or reactions based on certain stimuli, without reason or deduction.  Our minds think, then choose, then act.  It’s nature’s way.  It’s how the Creator made us different from every other creature on earth.


If we understand this difference between choice and instinct, we are better equipped then to accept that humans are responsible for their own choices.  No animal raises its eyes to heaven and says, “Why did you make me this way?”  Yet, it might be the very question more people should be asking their Creator.  His answer will be simple.  I believe the Creator would say to every person that asks (honestly – without a preconceived answer), “You are you, so you can know how much I love you, and how I want to show My glory through you.”  You get to choose whether this answer rings true to you or not.  Let these last verses guide you in that process.

John 3:16
For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Psalm 115:1
Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your faithful love, because of Your truth.

Psalm 33:6-12
The heavens were made by the word of the LORD, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into a heap; He puts the depths into storehouses. Let the whole earth tremble before the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it came into being; He commanded, and it came into existence. The LORD frustrates the counsel of the nations; He thwarts the plans of the peoples.  The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.  Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh– the people He has chosen to be His own possession!






Come to the water…

via Immerse

I remember one particularly brutal Halloween about 1996 or so, when the weather started out fine, but by mid-day the north wind was howling, the temperature dropped, and a storm was coming for sure.  Weather in Texas is like that sometimes.  The only down side to this particular day was the fact that I was scheduled to sit in a dunking booth to raise money for our Youth department to take a mission trip.  Good natured as I am, I committed to sit in freezing weather while everyone threw baseballs at a target, all in the hope they would strike the plate that would immerse me in ice cold water.  I’ve never been a fan of dunking booths since.

I was able to use this illustration though many times about what immersion really means.  Growing up in West Texas, I was always partial to southwestern slang.  I listened as a young man when our pastor would teach about baptism, he described it as “We dunk ’em under till they bubble.”  Everyone laughed, even after years of hearing it, we knew it wasn’t true, but it was fun to watch the newbies about to be baptized and see them grimace and squirm.

water baptism

Did you know there is more to this whole immerse thing we call baptism, and that there are actually Biblical images seldom taught about the whole experience?  Jesus gave His followers a very simple three step commission about how to begin and to build the church after He ascended back to heaven.  Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

People who take that initial step across the line of faith and believe in Jesus as savior, are called disciples here.  The very first step of obedience in discipleship is to be baptized.  The original Greek word used in this verse is βαπτίζω (bap-tid’-zo), and means to submerge, or immerse.  I believe Jesus used this word on purpose to illustrate what actually should happen when a person becomes a new believer.  In the first century when people would make robes for the rich, they would take fine fabric and immerse the material in a vat of dye.  They would used wooden paddles to make sure every part of the fabric was immersed and absorbed the dye into every single strand.  Jesus used this illustration to help the early disciples know that baptism means that we are giving every fiber of our being to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in baptism.  We recognize he has rescued us from darkness, and brought us into His marvelous light.  Therefore we give to Him, our complete and total self in the act of baptism… we are immersed in Christ.

Today, folks around the world find all sorts of activities to immerse themselves in, including sports, politics, their job, chasing money, clothes, cars and power.  When a person finds their true purpose for living is to bring God glory, they are only able to stop chasing these other pursuits, by immersing themselves in learning all that God wants them to learn from His word.  That’s why the last part of the commission is to teach these new disciples, how to be disciples.  My goal today is to help new disciples young and old to learn about our future on earth, and our future in heaven.  Your can read more about that here.

What have you immersed your life into?





Eternal Dossier

via Record

An obituary typically consists of a brief biographical sketch of the deceased person from the vantage point of a friend or relative.  The view received from this information is still an earthly view.  While it may have a spiritual synopsis of the person’s life, often it is more about the nature of their character, the sum of past achievements, genealogy, etc.  I know a few folks who still read the newspapers, whose favorite section is the Obituaries, because they like reading these short biographies of those who have passed.


Some people might even see this tribute as the “scorecard” for a life.  However, keeping score this way may not necessarily be the healthiest approach to life here or the hereafter.  If we are going to keep score, we might want to think more along the lines of what God keeps recorded in our eternal dossier.  Of course, this assumes you know that God does keep records of some things, and those things are defined for us in the Bible.  Allow me to give you a list of ten things God records, or has recorded over time; and will record until human history is over.

  1.  God records and stores all the tears we shed.
    Psalm 56:8
    You Yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your records?
  2. God records my birth, my life, my death in days – before it happens.
    Psalm 139:16
    Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.
  3. God records the number of the stars and keeps record of their names.
    Psalm 147:4
    He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.
  4. God keeps a Book of Remembrance of those who regard His name.
    Malachi 3:16
    At that time those who feared the LORD spoke to one another. The LORD took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name.
  5. God keeps track of people’s heavenly investments.
    Matthew 6:20
    But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.
  6. God records the number of hairs on an individual human head.
    Matthew 10:30
    But even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
  7. God records every idle word a person speaks.
    Matthew 12:36
    I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.
  8. God records every Godly work of a person.
    Hebrews 6:10
    For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints–and you continue to serve them.
  9. God records the general life of all humans.
    Revelation 20:12
    I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.
  10. God records the name of every person who ever stepped over the line of faith into Christ.
    Revelation 20:15
    And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

An obituary is the record to be read by those who remain behind in this life, here on this earth.  God’s records are for the person who has just passed.  Specifically, God keeps a Book of Life where He records all those who have trusted Jesus as their savior.  By definition this means there are those who haven’t, and what awaits them is not imaginable or desirable as an eternal destination.  Does this give you pause? Because maybe it should.  Maybe this is the moment of reflection and contemplation your whole life has been leading up to.  In these ten simple statements you may recognize that all of life has meaning and purpose, but will your’s measure up to God’s standard?

What does your eternal dossier look like?



As Old as the Hills…

via Murmuration

Are you tired of the ceaseless, careless, ignorant murmuration of people with nothing better to do than to create mindless narratives of your life?  Nothing ever changes.  This constant murmuring noise coming from those who feel threatened, and in need of justification for their existence, is as old as the hills.  Literally.  I’ll explain this in a moment.

Grainger Hunt, a senior scientist at the Peregrine Fund tells us that when we marvel at those murmurations in the sky, produced by thousands of starlings as a “dazzling cloud, swirling, pulsating, drawing together to the thinnest of waists, then wildly twisting in pulses of enlargement and diminution,” we may not understand exactly what we are witnessing.  Hunt says these beautiful, sometimes breathtaking murmurations, created by flocks of starlings dancing across the sky, are most often created as a defense mechanism.  These birds are moving as quick as possible in an attempt to put distance between themselves and a nearby falcon. The predator hunting its prey is the cause of this murmuration.  The images of these flocks of gyrating starlings pirouetting through the atmosphere becomes a spiritual metaphor for an ancient problem as old as the hills.


Do you remember the first murmur?  Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?

Do you remember the second murmur? Genesis 3:12  Then the man replied, “The woman You gave to be with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”

When God said “What is this you have done?” (verse 13), you realize of course this was a rhetorical question.  The clear teaching of scripture is that God is eternal, and omniscient.  Simply put, God has all knowledge of all things at all times.  So God isn’t quizzing them so that HE could understand or have information He did not previously know.  God is making a point of bringing clarity to the gravity of their choices to murmur, hedge, and make themselves look good.  Satan felt threatened by God so he chose to seduce and entice Eve with murmurations.  Eve, once having tasted the forbidden fruit, preyed upon by her own conscience, didn’t want to be alone in the mischief and used Satan’s words to bring Adam along.  Adam, not wanting full blame for the disobedience, spews murmurations about “that woman.”  The threat of being caught makes the flock twist and turn in shock and bewilderment.

It’s an ancient problem.  Seen in the first century images of the New Testament, the Jewish leaders continually felt threatened when the large crowds began to follow this itinerant teacher from Nazareth.  They were so intimidated by His authority they began to bully and berate Jesus at every turn, seeking to lay a trap to have Him killed.  Their murmurations are clearly seen as a strong defense mechanism attempting to escape what they all knew would be coming their way.  Judgment.

Those who know me, also know, one of my past pet phrases was “It is what it is.”  Murmurations are what they are.  Whether visually seen in the starling dance, or spiritually seen in blinding light of God’s word, the problem of murmurs will never go away.  People who feel threatened murmur.  If enough people share the same views, the gathering crowds create murmurations seen clearly from several miles away. From two thousand years past we can still hear the murmuration of the shouting crowd, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”  In fact, God in heaven can see them now, and He knows who started it, and why.

What do you do when you feel threatened?  Do you dance like a puppet on a string, trying your best to put yourself in a good light?  Do you sway and dip, compromising your faith, because someone rose up against you in the dark?  When the murmurations of the world rise up against you, in evil menacing shapes, remember the words of Paul.

1 Corinthians 16:13
Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong.

No murmurations, just faith.  Faith that God will see you through whatever situation or circumstance is seeking to devour you.

Eden’s Design

via Pattern

Having a vivid imagination has it’s drawbacks. While I have imagined the Garden of Eden many times, it seems to shift and evolve each time into something indefinable.  In this way it is rather like heaven somewhere out there in the future, but the definitions are so vague it allows only expectation without perfect knowledge of the details. We can’t go back to Eden, God has secured it’s location. We have to vacate our current human housing to go to heaven, which scares us silly to think about.  What a dilemma.  Stuck in an imperfect world, with imperfect people, living imperfect lives.  Was this really the Creator’s design? No.

Tapestries are like that though.  From the backside of the tapestry one can see brightly colored threads woven in among the darker ones, colliding and cascading together in what seems on first observation to have no rhyme or reason.  It is only when looking face on to the front of the tapestry that we can understand the weaver’s intentions and design.  The pattern becomes strikingly obvious, and we have one of those “aha” moments.

I look back on the tapestry of my life so far, and I understand this only partially.  What seemed like chaos at times, living through the struggles, fears and insecurities of difficult days or events or circumstances, in one sense has order today in the view from the “other side.”  My life took on a pattern of God’s own design, weaving all those feelings, pains, struggles, joys, victories, and experiences into the person I am right this minute.  It was for His glory, not mine.  He is the Master Weaver.

Eden was the origination point for the human experience, according to the Bible.  Yet, man’s struggle with staying in the boundaries of the design, and the simple demands of the Creator, resulted in being cast into a world filled with chaos.  Even in this event God would show grace and mercy, and point to a pattern far into the future, when He would go to extravagant lengths to save the people who would trust Him.  In examining heaven’s description in Revelation, we see a look back at the design pattern for Eden.

The Master Weaver also has designs for your life you may not even recognize or know of today.  The chaos surrounding you may be deafening, or so painful you wonder if you will even come out the other side.  It’s a moment or a series of moments that every person faces at some time in their life, when they have to choose between believing there is some design, or hopelessly resigning to believe there is only chaos.  At these times it’s best if we stop and try to examine not the chaos side, but the other side of the tapestry of our lives to find the meaning of what has happened in the past.  If the Master Weaver can help us see the design so far… it becomes easier to believe there is pattern and purpose going forward. It helps us trust the Weaver to weave into our life what is best for us.

Paul says it this way in Ephesians 3:20-21…

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us–to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

God at work


Eyes and Minds

via Abstract

Up is down, left is right, right is wrong, and that baby is just ugly.  These are examples of things you don’t say out loud, unless you want some serious retribution from those who think you’re a couple of tacos short of the house special.  Theoretical concepts are sometimes the hardest to communicate, in that they are, well, theories until proven true in a physical or concrete experiment, or evidence.  A light saber in the hands of the Jedi is apparently just as efficient a weapon as a laser rifle in the hands of the Alliance minions.  It’s true, but only in the metaphysical sense of the mind, since neither exists in our reality today.

Moving from the abstract to the real, in the spiritual world, doesn’t have to be a mystical experience.  However, it cannot be limited to the academic either.  Extracting anything from the Bible that is useful for living daily in the 21st century requires open spiritual minds and open spiritual eyes.  Then the problem is, how does the “opening” occur?  Paul gives us the solution.

1 Corinthians 2:10-15
Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.  The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone.

To the unbelieving, spiritually blind in this world, none of the things of God are revealed or understood.  The Revelation of God belongs to those who have stepped over the line of faith into Jesus. Simplistic?  Sure.  Hard to believe? Absolutely.  Still true? Yep.

Whether we ever recognize spiritual truth or not, is largely determined by our seeker-of-truth life choices.  Do we really want to know truth? Or, do we pretend to want to have this knowledge so we can “fit in” with those around us seeking truth?  I suggest that T. E. Lawrence was just such an individual – seeking truth.  He said, “All men dream: but not equally.  Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”  Lawrence in my opinion was a truth-seeker.

Stephen Hawking is another truth-seeker.  Hawking said, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.  Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist.  Be curious.  And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.  It matters that you don’t just give up.

Seeking truth requires a specific action/choice.  In order to “see” a person has to realize they are “blind” and in need of “sight.”  The blind, roaring at the top of the lungs that they see better than anyone else, is a laughable sight to those who really see.  We don’t laugh though, we mourn.  We would have everyone come to the knowledge of truth.  We wish that all men, women, boys and girls around the globe could finally see the truth.

Jesus said, “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life; and no one comes to the Father but through me.”  [John 14:6]






50 Shades of Truth

via Nuance


The now famous quote of Alan Greenspan is the perfect example of nuance in spoken communications.  “I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”  For those not familiar with Alan Greenspan, he is an economist who from 1987 to 2006 was chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve of the United States. Now he works in the private sector giving advice, making speeches, and consulting through Greenspan Associates LLC.

The subtle differences in inferences, implications, insinuations, intimations, and indications also speak of the nuances of our English language.  When someone says, “Just say what you mean,” it is a request for honest, truthful verbal expression of state of mind or intention.  But “meaning what you say” is about that person matching their subsequent behavior or action in ways that are consistent with what was said.  Nuance.

Robert K. Merton is credited with naming and popularizing the “law of unintended consequences.”  He says we act, determined to accomplish certain purposes, but there are often results that we did not anticipate that happen as well – unintended consequences. Nuance in our speech often has this same net effect or result. When we look for biblical models, we don’t have to look very far.

In the eighth chapter of John, after Jesus forgives an adulterous woman, John records a lengthly conversation about truth and freedom.  In the crowd that had gathered, there were those who believed in Him.  So Jesus said to these believing Jews, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.  You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Which was immediately perceived as a poke at their Roman servitude. So the crowd responds, “We are descendants of Abraham, and we have never been enslaved to anyone.  How can you say, ‘You will become free.’” Clearly these men needed another history lesson of the Hebrew people.

Here comes the nuance of the conversation: Jesus was speaking of spiritual truth, and they were hearing in literal worldview terminology.  The consequence: while the word “believe” in verse 30 might imply “faith,” the nature and context of the dialogue insists “believe” is better translated “intellectual understanding” not saving faith.  This becomes crystal clear in the ensuing conversation.

Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.  A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever.Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.  I know you are descendants of Abraham, but you are trying to kill Me because My word is not welcome among you. I speak what I have seen in the presence of the Father; therefore, you do what you have heard from your father.

They replied, “Our father is Abraham!

Jesus told them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did. But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this!  You’re doing what your father does.

They replied, “We have one Father – God.

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me. Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me? The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.

At the end of this conversation, John says they picked up stones to throw at Him.
[John 8:30-59]

How does this apply today?  The subtle shift in spiritual thinking today is found when liberal theologians, pastors, and bible teachers compromise the Word of God by twisting the words to imply or insinuate something God would never say.  The Bible speaks literally regarding truth, it doesn’t have 50 shades of truth.  It is a guidebook and an answer book for those who seek truth.  Those who seek to rationalize their behavior, actions or words, will always find a way like these Pharisees, to argue with God Himself about what truth is.  Most of the time, those who do this are thinking with worldly minds instead of transformed spiritual minds.  That’s why the apostle Paul gave these instructions:

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

The truth is the truth.  There is no nuance with truth.

Chillax already!

via Nervous

brain gears

What makes you nervous?  Not having a plan?  Not confident of your plan?  Constantly thinking about what other people think about your plan?  Worrying that they won’t appreciate or go along with your plan?

Or maybe you’re just the high-strung, anxious, excitable type, jumping at loud noises, and screaming when someone sneaks up on you.  My uncle Wylie used to call someone like this a “nervous Nellie.”  Being a little skittish or neurotic isn’t a bad thing, it could be caused by any number of things.  Getting worked up and overwrought about things we can control is one thing, but getting stressed out and agitated about things beyond our control… well, at that point in order to “chillax,” a person needs a strong faith.

I’m not talking about faith in karma, or some existential or pollyanna type faith.  I’m talking about a foundational belief system based in evidence and experience, to which a person turns when life around them seems to be falling apart.  When the unthinkable happens and the unimaginable results.  What then?  What kind of faith handles this part of life, helping us not fall apart at the seams of our being?

Hebrews 11:1-3
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the men of old gained approval.  By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

Faith is not just a girl’s name.  Faith is not just some ethereal ideal, or sophomoric whim.  Faith is choosing to believe that the world we live in was prepared for us by the Creator, who then instituted life in all forms, including ours.  The Bible says this is what the “ancients” believed when they looked up into the night sky, blazing with a million tiny lights.  The “ancients” believed the Creator formed all the plants and the animals, and ultimately created human life.  The “ancients” believed that this Creator of all things didn’t just create and then abandon His creation to fend for themselves in a hostile environment.  Rather, they believed that the Creator, once finished with the creative process, went about the business of revealing Himself to the human creature in ways that constituted a relationship.

In this personal relationship, the primary revelation God wanted humans to hear was, “do not be afraid.”  While God spoke to and through these “ancients” to reveal Himself, more recently in the “near” ancient time, God has revealed Himself through His Son.

Hebrews 1:1-4
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

In fact, He has spoken of how all things will ultimately be wrapped up and put right when Jesus, the Son of God, returns a second time.  You can read and study all about that if you click here.

For the nervous Nellie, for the strung-out, the over-excited, the skittish or neurotic, who believe the world is on a mission to self-destruct, and there is no hope…  God says, “Chillax, I got this.”



Man, I’m glad I’m not a cow!

via Ruminate


You might need to chew on that title for awhile, while you mull over what I meant by it.  My good buddy, Dr. John Scott Herrington, made this statement (the title) while we were on a trip as he looked out over a field where a herd of cows were grazing.  It was hysterical at the time, but I guess you had to be there.  It got me thinking though.  As cows stand there in the field, chewing their cud, they give the false impression of being deep thinkers. They have this goofy look on their face, as their jaws just chew and chew.  When in reality, we all know cows aren’t the brightest animals on the farm.

Looks can be deceiving.  I agreed with my good friend, that indeed, it would be better to be a human than a cow.  But why?  Where is God more glorified?  Is God more glorified in a creature made with two stomachs, and any time the creature wants to can just cough up a cud of food to ruminate on again?  Or is God more glorified in a higher thinking creature who constantly argues with the Creator about what is best for them in life?  Hmmmm.  It’s a puzzle right?

It also made me think of animals in general, and birds in particular.  Sparrows, in fact, came to mind as I pondered what I might learn from this simple observation.  This took me to a story some may remember from Sunday school, where Jesus was teaching His student followers the principles of discipleship.  Specifically Jesus was helping them understand the cure for anxiety.  Why would Jesus need to teach his disciples this lesson?  Because what human creatures do is argue with the Creator about what’s best for them in life, and when they don’t get the answer they want, they tend to worry and become anxious.  The disciples suffered from this malady just as the rest of us do.

Matthew 10:29-31
Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Matthew 6:25-27
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

We do well to realize that Jesus speaks directly to us today in these commands.  Do you see the specific commands here?  “So do not fear… do not be worried about your life.”  Well, that’s easy to do right?  Humans seem to have this innate capability to pretend they are cows.  We spiritually and emotionally cough up into our hearts and minds those things we like to worry about or anxiously try to fix about our lives.  We ruminate over and over about the “what-ifs” of life, trying to work out a response to every possible permutation, never comprehending that we aren’t wired for this knowledge.  Only God knows every possible permutation, and He has each of them covered.

Jesus says lilies in the field give God more glory than people do sometime.

Matthew 6:28-33
And why are you worried about clothing?  Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?  You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Humans were created to think on a level far above flowers, birds, and cows.  We are capable of recognizing just how much God loves us on a personal level, and how He engineered a way for us to be in relationship with Him personally.  God gave us the highest thinking brain available among all the species of the planet.  Yet, we abuse this great gift by ruminating about ourselves, rather than contemplating how better to walk with God and bring Him glory.

I’m glad I’m not a cow, a bird, or a flower.  However, I want to come to the place where I, as God’s highest creation, bring Him greater glory than all the animals or vegetation of the planet.  They do so by instinct.  I bring Him greater glory when I choose to trust in His provision and direction, and live for Him instead of myself.  Verse 33 speaks for itself.



via Swarm

What we called “fads” when I was growing up (think bell-bottom jeans, chia pets, and disco dancing), are more likely today called trends.  However, it might just as easily be called “mob mentality” as people swarm to what’s hot at the moment.  Some easy examples might be: the stock market, fashion apparel, automobiles, music, and yes… religion.  Let me be clear.  I said religion, not Christianity.  Not many people today rush to join the movement of TRUE Christianity.


Pundits like to lump all faith models together in a box, and call them “religion,” and in so doing deny there is ever really any difference in any of them.  Whether it’s Islam, Baha’i, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Sikhism, Unitarianism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Native Spirituality, Judaism, … or Christianity… pundits say they are all the same.  They say it’s a swarm mentality that draws us to these flames.  I contend that the religions of the world have only one thing in common.  Humans are created with an awareness of God, and have tried since the world began to worship the Creator, but in twisted man-invented ways.  Humans in their core DNA are hard-wired to worship something, or someone, so in the absence of wealth, fashion, cars, and music… they create deities of their own design.

Within the construct of each world-religious system, there are variations and themes which spread their influence in thousands of different directions.  Following the trends of ancient peoples, in the 21st century it is often “fashionable” (I call it swarmy) to announce your inclusion into one of the “newer” or “more ancient” religious systems like Scientology (newer) or Satanism (ancient).  People swarm to a widely-shared but short-lived enthusiasm for something new.  Until the next “new” thing comes along.  Or until the fallacy of the bandwagon they hopped onto fails to satisfy their need for new.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus had thousands of followers swarming into every tiny village and town He wandered through.  They all sought to catch a glimpse of the miracle-working carpenter who taught the Torah and read the Prophets with authority.  The swarming, teeming crowds became so strong at one point that He had to get into a boat and push off shore just a bit to keep from getting trampled under foot. [Matthew 13:2]  Most of the crowds from His first year had abandoned Him by the third year, and were no where to be found in the end.  Thousands cheered and celebrated as He entered Jerusalem on Sunday before Passover.  Thousands yelled and cursed Him, as He carried His own cross through the streets to Golgotha.  Do you see the “swarm” mentality in this historically accurate narrative?

It takes more commitment than a “fad” mentality to be in relationship with the Creator of the universe.  Jesus told one woman, “But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.  Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” [John 4:23-24]  These words apply today, at least as much as when they were spoken, perhaps even more.  Combine this thought with what Jesus said that night he was arrested, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” [John 14:6]

These two foundational truths compel us to seek more than a fad, more than a trendy spiritual answer.  We find it only in the ultimate reality of Jesus’ words to one of the Jewish leaders named Nicodemus.  John 3:16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and ONLY Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”   Jesus died for the swarming mass of humanity.  When Jesus said “everyone,” everyone means me.  Everyone means you.  It requires more than just being part of the swarm.  Stepping over the line of faith, and believing these three verses, receiving the grace offered in Christ, is a personal commitment.  It is how a person fulfills their created purpose.  Living in this grace and extending God’s glory, is what true worship means.  It requires more than just being part of the swarm.

Through the Looking Glass

via Vivid

On days like today, I like to imagine I’m back in Breckenridge, Colorado.  It’s August and we’ve just arrived.  My first look up and out at the majesty of the mountains motivates me to try to capture the image.  However, raising my camera, I was accosted by something much closer to where I actually stood.  The beauty arrayed in the vivid colors of this flower pot became the metaphor for my whole life.


We do this don’t we?  We look way out there in the distance of life, planning our future, dreaming of what may come, or when we might reach a desired destination.  All the while life is happening all around us, bright, graphic, authentic, detailed, and picturesque.  We miss it if we don’t refocus our lens, and capture the now, instead of the distant “when.”

I remember a phrase I heard frequently growing up, “He’s so heavenly minded, he’s of no earthly good.”  It’s an easy trap, and I’ve been it’s victim all too often I fear.  Just as in our earthly lives we plan and prod along on a path to something desirable, at times it seems our spiritual lives are so caught up in “heaven someday soon” that living in the light and beauty of God’s presence right here, right now is totally out of focus.  The grass may indeed be greener over there, but what God want’s us to see in this moment, is the scintillating glow of the flower pot in front of us.

The very reason the disciples missed so much of the message Jesus tried to help them with was that their focus continually was on His establishment of an earthly kingdom.  They kept asking, “is it now?”  They fought over who would be the greatest in the Master’s court.  All the while, they missed the elegant and eloquent display of grandeur that is the glory of God in Christ.  In fact except that Jesus forced them to see it, they would have missed it completely.  So, Jesus arranges a road-trip up the high mountain where He is transfigured before them.  His face was shining like the sun.  His clothes were as translucent as light.  They saw him carrying on a dialogue with Moses and Elijah.  They would have missed it completely, if Jesus hadn’t insisted that they come. [Matthew 17:1-13]

Looking out my office window as I write these words, the sky is overcast, giving a dull and dreary outlook for a Sunday morning.  Closer still in my vision is my study Bible, with florescent tabs sticking out.  The vivid contrast of the bright tabs against the darkened hazy sky helps me focus.  I will not be forever bound to this office, looking out into a world filled with darkness.  One day I will rest in the heavenly places as a child of the King.  Until then, my job is to continue writing, and telling of God’s wonderful grace, and experience that grace myself every single day.  My job is to do what I can right here, right now, to bring God great glory with what is left of my time here on earth.   I don’t want to miss the flower pot here simply because I’m so caught up with how majestic and glorious it will be there.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  ~ Matthew 5:16


Pie in the Sky

via Parlay

I’ve been to Vegas, I know it can happen.  Find someone to stake you, if you can’t stake yourself, and turn the stake into something greater than the sum of a few bets.  I’ve even seen it happen. To a few.  A very happy few, and that in itself is sad.  Because the fact remains that in Vegas, only the few ever beat the house and win big.  Vegas loves the parlay.  They want to take you stake, your winnings, and invite you to parlay.  The odds are never in your favor.  That’s why they call it “beating the odds.”


What are the odds, that every day as I write these short vignettes, as I try my hand at profundity and insight, that I’m right in my observations about God’s sovereign authority over all?  I’d say about the odds are 50-50 wouldn’t you?   I mean, either I’m right, or I’m wrong. Yes? So for argument’s sake, let’s assume for a moment that I’m wrong.  If I’m wrong then everyone who reads these words can just see them as entertainment.  The musings of a mad man bent on proclaiming a gospel that is nothing more than myth.  If I’m wrong then Jesus isn’t the savior, the Holy Spirit doesn’t lead and guide us, and God doesn’t exist.

What are the odds?  50-50.

If I’m right however, if God not only exists but is the Creator of all things; if the Holy Spirit leads us to salvation, then on to relationship with the Creator; if Jesus is God and Savior as the Bible proclaims – then these short articles of faith have eternal value and truth. Then heaven is real and so is that other place no one likes to talk about.  We can’t both be right, so the odds for each of us is 50-50.

What are the stakes?

The annihilation view is one of finality at death.  Those who hold this view think when this human life ceases, it’s just over, there is nothing left of body, soul, or spirit.  We are annihilated.  Right or wrong?  50-50.  All atheists are essentially of this order.  Many people live this way, by not making a conscious choice to explore biblical truth.

The “all dog’s go to heaven” view is one of eternal optimism.   Those who hold this view are convinced if there is a heaven, all us “dogs” are going to get there eventually.  It’s just a matter of time.  Most people you pass on the street, believe this in one form or another.  Organized world religions have fostered this mentality, setting out to prove if you just follow their prescription, you too will arrive in Muhammed’s Paradise, Hebrew Paradise, the Good Kingdom, Tian, Purgatory, or Heaven.  Right or wrong?  50-50.

The Biblical view is the option I prefer to believe.  It is a choice I make consciously.  It is mine alone to make.  Just as you will choose while reading this, which to believe.  The difference in the Biblical view and all other world religions is seen in the prescription for true faith, and the requirements for entrance into heaven.  True faith relies not on any act or work I perform to gain entrance to heaven.  True faith isn’t bent on a set of legalistic rules to follow.  True faith that saves, according to the Bible, is yielding my will to God’s will, and trusting Jesus as my personal Messiah, Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer.  Upon stepping over this line of faith, (my will for His will), I become a member of God’s family.  I am given an inheritance.  One which will not see corruption from moths and rust.  An inheritance guaranteed by God’s Holy Spirit.  And one day… according to the Bible… I will live with my Creator, Father, God – forever.  Right or wrong?  50-50.


Blaise Pascal’s wager simply says it would be wise to live your life as if God does exist because you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  If you live this way, and God does exist, you gain heaven; if God doesn’t exist, you lose nothing.  On the other hand, if you live as though God does not exist, and He doesn’t, you lose nothing.  But if God does exist, and you live as though He doesn’t, you’ve gained hell and punishment, and have lost heaven and bliss.

I’m not one of those pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by people.  I actually live more for the “right now,” and hope to gain heaven because I have faith in Jesus.  But the real point is: What do you base your life on today, that will have any eternal value?  I do choose Pascal’s wager as true.  I live as though God exists, that He loves me, and has a future for me here, and after here.  I’m betting the parlay, that God has more … much, much more in store for me there. So I live as though it is true… here.




I got a powerful hankerin’…

via Daily Prompt: Desire

“… for some steak and taters! What did you think I was gonna say?  Get your mind out of the gutter boy, your crowdin’ me.” Or so my uncle Wylie used to say.  I saw a couple of good quotes today regarding: desire.

My purpose in life does not include a hankering to charm society.” ~ James Dean

Hankering after material happiness is called lust & such activities are sure to meet with frustration in the long run.” ~ author unknown

For years, I’ve had a hankering for the portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Duplessis.  Franklin is credited with so many inventions: the postal system, lightening rods, the constitution.  He was a rock star before there was such a thing.” ~ Jon Bon Jovi

Everyone has strong desires. Strong desires make us feel alive.  Granted, some people are so driven by their desires that the lusting, craving, longing, aching, passionate search for fulfilling these desires leads to destructive behavior and meaningless or broken relationships.  Such is the nature of desire gone amuck.

It seems some easily justify this powerful hankerin’, as they quote the Bible out of context, simply to bring affirmation to their licentious lifestyle.  Imagine God’s anger when folks twist and pervert David’s words from Psalm 37, to fit their own agenda.

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

The masquerading hypocrite who uses God’s word to authenticate a “worldly” lifestyle knows nothing of God’s will or ways.  They only see the second part of this verse while ignoring the meaning of “delight yourself in the LORD.”  If we delight in God’s will, His Holy Spirit transforms our human “hankerings” to align with His purposes.  Only when this transformation has taken place can a person “in God’s will” ask, and the desire will be met.  Only because, it was God’s delight first, and these “desires” brings Him glory.

If you need some help with what mis-aligned desires look like, turn to John’s first letter for the details.  God’s Word is pretty specific here:

1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”

Lust of the flesh = material wealth or goods
Lust of the eyes = human sensuality (all five senses)
Pride of Life = achievement, power, fame

When these hankerings get the best of us, we are definitely not delighting in God, but in ourselves.  We are completely out of balance with what God intended our lives to be.  The pull and power of these three areas (flesh, eyes, pride) is completely destructive.

Now for the positive side of hankerin’.

Don’t miss the more exciting truth of Psalm 37:4… “He will give you the desires of your heart, (when you) delight yourself in the LORD.”  A person of faith knows that God wants only what’s best for them.  This knowledge gives foundation for leaping joyfully, and shouting mightily, telling of the great things God is at work doing in their life.  The person of faith is busy every day discovering and experiencing God’s grace.  This daily experience brings confident living, which shines like a beacon to those walking in darkness.

I have a powerful hankerin’ to be this kind of light … in a very dark world.

Psalm 42:1
As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God.

Neo to Morpheus

via Doubt

The mind bending alternate universe of The Matrix has always intrigued me.  Great movies like these sometimes challenge us to question everything we believe.  Is the keyboard I’m typing on real, or just an illusion?  Morpheus says to Neo, “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo.  But I can only show you the door.  You’re the one that has to walk through it.


Life for people of faith is exactly like this.  Doubt is a part of our existence, and Jesus knew this.  This knowledge is what originated the final part of the plan, whereby God’s Holy Spirit would indwell those who have stepped over the line of FAITH into Christ.  It’s as though Jesus says to every new believer, “I’m trying to free your mind.  But I can only show you the door.  You’re the one that has to walk through it.”  When God’s Spirit leads us, we follow.  When God’s Spirit inspires us, we write or speak.  When God’s Spirit motivates us, we act in ways that benefit others and bring glory to God.  That’s what it means to walk in the Spirit.  We live out our existence in this world, believing that there is another unseen world more real than the one we inhabit.

Paul said, “For we walk by faith, not by sight-”  2 Corinthians 5:7

However, consider a few other verses which shed light on our doubt.

Proverbs 28:26
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.

Psalms 25:4
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.

James 1:6
But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

Jesus was constantly asking those 12 men who followed him most closely, “Why did you doubt?”  Yet, remarkable as it may seem, Jesus fully anticipated that not only they, but we too would live a life filled with doubt.  So Jesus said to them, and to us, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1

There are days when I feel more like the man who watched his son, writhing on the ground, foaming at the mouth, at the mercy of a demon attacking the boy. The man just wants his boy to be free and sane again.  Follow this conversation… Mark 9:14-29

Jesus: “How long has this been happening to him?
Dad: “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!

Jesus: “IF … You can?  All things are possible to him who believes.
Dad: “I DO … believe!! Help my unbelief!

Many times in my past, in my present, and I expect in my future, I have or will look to heaven and cry out… “help my unbelief!”  Why?  Because I can’t see the Matrix that is God’s perfect will.   Because not only can I not see the Matrix, I can’t sometimes make sense even out of what I do see.  It causes me to doubt.  Not in a vacillating way trying to decide if I still believe it all.  But in a much deeper way than mere words can describe.  I’m like this dad… I just want help.

The Holy Spirit often speaks to me in moments like these with these words of wisdom…

Isaiah 64:4
For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.

Paul quoted this exact passage when he wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:9-12):

but just as it is written,

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.

Seeing is not believing.  Believing is seeing.  Do not doubt.  Do not be afraid.  Open the door to God’s Holy Spirit.

Jesus says:  I got this.

He who hesitates…

via Hesitate


T. S. Eliot wrote:
We do not know very much of the future
Except that from generation to generation
The same things happen again and again
Men learn little from other’s experience.

2 Corinthians 6:2
… for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.”  Behold, now is “the Acceptable time,” behold, now is “the Day of Salvation” —

Hebrews 4:7
He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”

He who hesitates is lost.  You do not know what the future holds.  Pick up the quarter.  learn much from other’s experience.  Realize that today, right this minute, as you are reading these words, you can say “yes” to Jesus and His grace.

Do not harden your hearts to these words…